Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Germany Cancels Arrest Warrant for Lebanon’s Ex-central Bank Chief

Longtime chief of Lebanon's Central Bank Riad Salameh, poses as he leaves office after a 30-year tenure, at Lebanon's Central Bank building in Beirut, Lebanon July 31, 2023. (Reuters)
Longtime chief of Lebanon's Central Bank Riad Salameh, poses as he leaves office after a 30-year tenure, at Lebanon's Central Bank building in Beirut, Lebanon July 31, 2023. (Reuters)
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Germany Cancels Arrest Warrant for Lebanon’s Ex-central Bank Chief

Longtime chief of Lebanon's Central Bank Riad Salameh, poses as he leaves office after a 30-year tenure, at Lebanon's Central Bank building in Beirut, Lebanon July 31, 2023. (Reuters)
Longtime chief of Lebanon's Central Bank Riad Salameh, poses as he leaves office after a 30-year tenure, at Lebanon's Central Bank building in Beirut, Lebanon July 31, 2023. (Reuters)

German authorities have cancelled their arrest warrant for Lebanon's former central bank chief for technical reasons, but are continuing their probe and keeping his assets frozen, the Munich prosecutor's office told Reuters on Wednesday.

Riad Salameh, 73, was Lebanon's central bank governor for 30 years until July 2023. In his final months as governor, Germany issued an arrest warrant for him on corruption charges, two sources in Lebanon told Reuters.

Responding to questions from Reuters, a spokeswoman for the Munich prosecutor's office confirmed on Wednesday that the arrest warrant was cancelled on June 10.

The spokeswoman said the cancellation had come after an appeal from the defendant, and because he no longer held the position of central bank chief - meaning there was "no longer any risk that he will suppress evidence in this function."

She said the regional court of Munich had "confirmed the urgent suspicion with regard to the offences charged against the defendant" and that Germany's "investigations are ongoing".

Salameh declined a Reuters request for comment on the development.

Salameh and his brother Raja are being investigated in Lebanon and at least five European countries for allegedly taking hundreds of millions of dollars from Lebanon's central bank and laundering the funds abroad. They deny the accusations.

Germany confirmed in February that it was conducting money laundering investigations into Salameh and his brother, and had issued an arrest warrant.

The Munich public prosecutor's office said in February it had also seized three commercial properties in Munich and Hamburg with a total value of around 28 million euros, and shares worth around seven million euros in a Duesseldorf-based property company, as part of the case.

On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the public prosecutor's office said it had "dismissed as unfounded" an appeal against the seizure order, which it said dated back to Jan. 26, 2023.

Lebanese judge Helene Iskandar, who has charged Salameh in a separate case in Lebanon and has been following up on the foreign probes into him, confirmed on Wednesday that the warrant had been cancelled but that Germany's investigation into Salameh would remain open.

Salameh still faces an arrest warrant in France as part of its own investigation into whether he embezzled public funds, as well as a resultant Interpol red notice.



Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Israeli Forces Pull Back after Gaza City Offensive, Leaving Dozens of Bodies

Palestinians gather as they inspect the damages after Israeli forces withdrew from a part of Gaza City, following a ground operation, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City, July 12, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas
Palestinians gather as they inspect the damages after Israeli forces withdrew from a part of Gaza City, following a ground operation, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City, July 12, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas
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Israeli Forces Pull Back after Gaza City Offensive, Leaving Dozens of Bodies

Palestinians gather as they inspect the damages after Israeli forces withdrew from a part of Gaza City, following a ground operation, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City, July 12, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas
Palestinians gather as they inspect the damages after Israeli forces withdrew from a part of Gaza City, following a ground operation, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City, July 12, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas

Israeli forces retreated from some Gaza City districts overnight after a fierce, week-long military offensive, leaving dozens of dead and wrecked homes and roads in the Palestinian enclave's biggest urban area, residents and rescue service said on Friday.

The offensive, 10 months into Israel's campaign to eliminate Hamas militants, took place as US-backed mediators sought to finalize a peace deal that would free remaining hostages taken by the militants in their cross-border rampage on Oct. 7.

According to Reuters, the Gaza Civil Emergency Service said teams had collected around 60 bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces over the past week from the area of Tel Al-Hawa and the edges of the Sabra neighborhood in Gaza City.

Both residents and rescue teams cautioned that while tanks withdrew from some areas, Israeli snipers and tanks continued to control high ground at some locations, and warned residents against trying to return to their homes in those areas.

"There are bodies scattered in the streets, dismembered bodies, there are bodies of entire families, there are also bodies inside a home of an entire family that was completely burned," Gaza Strip Civil Defense spokesperson Mahmoud Basal said in comments carried by media in Hamas-run Gaza.

The Israeli military had said on Thursday that its forces were working to dismantle Hamas capabilities in Gaza City, and that it "follows international law and takes feasible precautions to mitigate civilian harm." It said the same was not true of Hamas.

The armed wings of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad said they had fought fierce battles against Israeli forces, attacking them with anti-tank rockets and mortar fire, killing and wounding many. There has been no Israeli army comment on those claims.

Home to more than a quarter of Gaza's residents before the war, Gaza City was largely razed to the ground in late 2023, but hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have returned to homes in the ruins. Israel has once again ordered them out, though it is unclear where residents can go safely. Israel controls most of Gaza's borders and is also attacking central and southern Gaza.